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| | |-+  February 25, 2006, Patrol Race ski tour
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Author Topic: February 25, 2006, Patrol Race ski tour  (Read 35174 times)

Posts: 2099

February 25, 2006, Patrol Race ski tour
« on: 02/26/06, 03:41 PM »

Upper left: Wolf Bauer, 94 years young.  Upper right: Eileen discovers a 1930s trail marker near Silver Peak.  Lower: Dusk at the Meany Lodge finish.  (Rear, L-R: Eileen, Ed, Art I., Nick L., Art F., Anita, Nick D., Jeff, Tom.  Front, L-R: Paul, Yves, Lowell, Rick, Steve.)

"Those were rugged days!"

That's how racer Paul Shorrock described the Snoqualmie to Stampede Pass Patrol Race of the 1930s.  Fourteen skiers discovered just how rugged they were during a February 25 tour organized by The Mountaineers.  This tour was not a race, but it was perhaps the first time the club has organized this 18-mile trip since the last official race, 65 years ago.  The trip was a great success, with all fourteen participants completing the route.  

For most "racers," our weekend began Friday night at the Mountaineers' historic Snoqualmie Lodge.  Wolf Bauer, Northwest skiing, mountaineering, and kayaking legend, celebrated his 94th birthday by telling us about the old days of the Patrol Race.  In 1936, seventy years ago almost to the day, Wolf Bauer, Chet Higman and Bill Miller set a Patrol Race record of 4 hours, 37 minutes, 23 seconds, a time that has never been beaten. The race was a team event, with three skiers each carrying a minimum ten-pound pack. Team members were required to finish within a minute of each other.  The racers were fond of pranks, for example slipping rocks into the packs of Paul Shorrock and Hans-Otto Giese after the official weigh-in.

Wolf also described the 1934 Silver Skis race from Camp Muir to Paradise on Mt Rainier.  Wolf started the race with 60 other competitors and finished fifth after a melee unlike anything ever seen in the Northwest, before or since.  Finally, Wolf shared a bit of his life philosophy: "The trick is to die young -- as late as possible." Wink

On Saturday morning, we set out from the lodge by headlamp at 6 a.m.  To avoid trail-breaking beneath avalanche-prone slopes, we decided not to visit Lodge Lake, the original start of the race. Instead, we climbed to the Summit Central crossover trail and followed the divide to the top of the Silver Fir chairlift.  This brought us to the Snoqualmie Summit nordic trail system, which we schussed down to Rockdale Lake and climbed up to Olallie Meadow (Windy Pass).  This variation bypasses a bit of the historic route, but I think it is a more aesthetic and enjoyable start to the tour.  

From Windy Pass we picked up the old race route across the flanks of Silver and Tinkham Peaks.  We discovered many of the 1930s course markers, orange tin shingles nailed high on the trees.  The grand old forest extending to Mirror Lake gave us a taste of what the whole route must have been like in the old days.

Our group varied widely in age and equipment.  A few chose burly alpine touring gear.  Others chose light nordic touring gear.  Yet our group got along very well. Everyone was patient with each other's strengths and limitations. If there was any lesson to be learned, it was that the Patrol Race course is longer and rougher than you might think, and you should choose your gear accordingly.

The most challenging downhill skiing was from Mirror Lake to Yakima Pass.  This section featured breakable sun-crust and young, tight trees.  A 600-foot climb on skins led to the Meadow Creek road system.  Fortunately, the road was packed by snowmobiles, and we had a fast, fun glide for 2-1/2 miles to Stirrup Creek.  We followed the Dandy Creek road system to the Dandy-Sunday Creek divide (called "Baldy Pass" in the old days).  Here we could look north to Keechelus Lake and imagine the outline (obscured by thickening clouds) of the Snoqualmie Pass peaks above our distant starting point.  A downhill run to Stampede Pass and a climb to the weather station led to a final downhill glide to the Mountaineers' historic Meany Lodge.  

We arrived at 6 p.m., exactly twelve hours after starting. Although we finished without headlamps, we needed flash bulbs to take our end-of-the-tour pictures.  Anita twisted her knee on one of the very last downhills.  We hope it isn't serious.  Apart from that, the trip was completed without incident.  

The Mountaineers at Meany Lodge served us all a hearty dinner.  Some of the racers hopped the snowcat for home, while the rest of us settled in for a well-earned sleep.  It was an enjoyable and memorable trip, made so by great hosts, a great group, and an inspirational visit by Wolf Bauer.  Wolf, your record is safe for another year!  


Mountaineers Patrol Race background  

Silver Skis Race background

Wolf Bauer profile (Northwest Mountaineering Journal)  

2006 call for participants  

2005 call for participants (cancelled due to lack of snow)
« Last Edit: 02/28/06, 03:06 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Dr. Crash

Posts: 62

Re: February 25, 2006, Patrol Race ski tour
« Reply #1 on: 02/26/06, 05:02 PM »

It was a great trip. Thanks Lowell for guiding us yesterday.


If it's too steep, you're too old.

Posts: 1

Re: February 25, 2006, Patrol Race ski tour
« Reply #2 on: 02/27/06, 01:50 AM »


4 hours, 37 minutes to complete that tour in the days before many of the roads we used were in place... burly.

It was a pleasure to hear about the history of this event and many others from Wolf, and ditto the hearty thanks to Lowell for organizing this event.

--Jeff Coon

Posts: 184

Re: February 25, 2006, Patrol Race ski tour
« Reply #3 on: 02/27/06, 08:50 AM »

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and leading the trip, Lowell.  You did an awesome job of routefinding, keeping the group together, and moving the trip along.  Special thanks to Art I. for coming up with the idea and working to pull all of it together.

And there are more thanks:

To Wolf Bauer for his humorous and inspiring lecture.
To all you burly guys (you know who you are) for breaking trail and being patient and gracious with the "Club Med" contingent.  
To Art F. for giving up final "face shots" to keep me company as I babied my knee and gingerly step-turned my way down the Powerline run to Meany (I'm really grateful for that).
To Nick L. for reassuring  me that my knee would be OK.
To Lynn, Mary and the Snoqualmie Lodge folks for providing the great Friday evening.
To Patty, Chuck, Dave and the Meany folks for the warm welcome on Saturday evening.
Finally, to the young lady who piloted the snowcat "box" down to Crystal Springs, providing a wonderfully surreal ending to an amazing trip.

I very much enjoyed skiing with the group and appreciated being able to participate in this historic event.  There were some GPS readings in the group that put the trip mileage at closer to 20 miles with 5000+ vertical.  I felt pretty good to be able to complete the trip in 50% more time than Lowell's previous 8 hours.   Most of all, it was just plain fun.

Oh, and I think the knee will be just fine.


Posts: 1090

Re: February 25, 2006, Patrol Race ski tour
« Reply #4 on: 05/12/06, 03:03 PM »

This board is closed but Lowell wanted this info added, so I have copied his post over to here:

Fire destroys historic Mountaineers Lodge

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. - An early morning fire destroyed the historic Mountaineers Lodge at Snoqualmie Friday.

The lodge, located in a heavily forested area five miles west of Snoqualmie Summit, was burned to its foundation, according to one fire crew member at the scene. Crews had difficulty reaching the lodge, which is located 2,000 feet from the nearest road in steep snow covered terrain. It took crews about an hour to reach the lodge after they used a snow cat to transport firefighters and hoses to the scene.

Washington State Patrol has closed State Route 906 in both directions as fire crews battle the blaze.  Witnesses driving along Interstate 90 said they could see thick black smoke rise above the trees.

A Mountaineers spokesperson said the lodge had been closed for the past month, so it was unlikely there were people inside. There were no reports of injuries.

A witness captured photos of the fire at the Mountaineers Lodge at Snoqualmie on his digital camera.

The Web site for the Seattle-based Mountaineers Club says the 57-year-old lodge is on the state Register of Historic Places. Located near the Snoqualmie ski area and the Pacific Crest Trail, it was used by club members and rented to others as a base for skiing and hiking.

What a sad end.
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